Makha Bucha Day 2019
Posted by Peter C on February 23rd, 2019 in Thai Festivals
Makha Bucha Day in Thailand is a Buddhist festival. It occurs on the full moon of the third month of the lunar calendar. It?s also celebrated in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. Makha Bucha Day in Thailand is a public holiday so that all Thais have the opportunity to visit their local temple to take part in the celebration. On a leap year, Makha Bucha Day takes place on the full moon of the fourth lunar month.
What is Makha Bucha Day?
In the Thai language, Makha means ?third month? while Bucha means to honor. Makha Bucha Day in Thailand honors the Buddha, his teachings, and the core principles of Theravada Buddhism. It celebrates a gathering that took place 9 months after the Buddha?s enlightenment on the full moon of the third lunar month. The gathering in India was attended by the Buddha and 1250 of his enlightened disciples. At the gathering, the Buddha gave important teaching detailing the main ideals of Buddhism. They are not doing evil, doing only what is good, and purifying the mind.
What Happens on Makha Bucha Day?
All temples in Thailand are open and most Thai people visit their local temple to make merit. Other activities on this day include giving alms to monks, reciting Buddhist scriptures, and meditating. When visiting the temple worshippers walk three times around a chedi or ordination hall holding a flower, incense sticks, and a lit candle. This is known as Wian Thian (to circle around). Some temples hold monk-led candlelit processions usually after sunset on the eve of Makha Bucha Day or before sunrise on the day itself. The most famous one is held at the golden mount temple in Bangkok.
On Makha Bucha Day in Thailand, Thai Buddhists are expected to strictly observe a code of conduct. Firstly, no harming animals or people. Secondly, not taking anything that does not belong to you. Thirdly, no sexual misconduct. Fourthly, no telling lies or gossiping about others, and lastly, no consumption of alcohol or drugs. Because of this, the sale of alcohol is banned for 24 hours in shops and bars.
Makha Bucha Day in Bangkok
If you want to experience Makha Bucha Day in Bangkok, the best place is the temple of the golden mount at Wat Saket. Hundreds of people attend making their way up the 344 steps to the summit. The best time to go is on the day itself at sunset or on the eve for the candlelit procession. Outside the temple, there are vendors selling flowers, incense sticks, and candles in glasses. Admission is free for Thai though foreigners still have to pay the 50 baht entrance fee. On the rooftop people Wian Thian by walking around the golden chedi holding a lotus flower, a pair of incense sticks, or a candle. Hands are held in a Wai position. After walking around three times they kneel in front of the chedi, pay their respects, and pray. The flower is placed on an altar as are the incense sticks.
Some people bring new orange monks robes as offerings. Red cloth is on display on which people sign their name and those of loved ones, often with a message or wish. These clothes are later wrapped around the chedi. Donations of banknotes are attached to money trees or lines as a way of making merit. This money contributes to the maintenance of the temple or is put towards a good cause.
Makha Bucha Day in Thailand
This year Makha Bucha Day fell on February 19th. Next year it will fall on February 9th. Similar celebrations are held on Visakha Bucha (18th May 2019) and Asanha Bucha (16th July 2019). There should be a candlelit procession to the summit of Wat Saket on the eve of Visakha Bucha. Check our Facebook page nearer the time for confirmation. If you are in Chiang Mai the main celebrations are held at Wat Doi Suthep where hundreds make a 4-hour walk up Doi Suthep to the temple.
Watch our video of Makha Bucha Day 2019 at Wat Saket in Bangkok.
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